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Wednesday, September 1, 2010


There have been so many beautiful women in cinematic history that it is difficult to choose the most beautiful of them all. Certain names, of course, are mentioned more than others: Garbo, Dietrich, Hepburn... Louis B. Mayer named Hedy Lamarr (really Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler) after the fallen Barbara La Marr, whom he deemed the most beautiful woman in show business, (quite the compliment). Grace Kelly too remains one of the few whom we hold close to our hearts, with men admiring her beauty and women trying to emulate it. It is quite possible that we could give her a promotion from her "Princess Grace" status to make her "Queen Kelly," the most beautiful of all Hollywood beauties. Faces like this, after all, don't come around every day.

Grace was more than a pretty face,  however. Her exteriors merely amplified her inner light: a passion, kindness, and allure that could not be duplicated (no matter how hard Hitchcock tried, hello Vertigo). Her distance, manners, and class put her in a category all her own, and her talent made her deserving of her elevated position in the public eye. Placed high on a pedestal by her fans, she became the unobtainable Goddess, admired from afar and thus more desired than ever. Her collaborations with Hitch (Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, and To Catch a Thief) catapulted her to an even greater position of fame, yet still she remained separate, as if protected by a crystal pane of glass. In life, you always want what you can't have, and so the world fell in love with Grace, who always gave just enough to keep us guessing, keep us wanting, and keep us coming back for more.

Grace on the set of Rear Window with
Hitch. She was his #1 muse by now.

What is most interesting is that this was no publicity ploy or calculated business move. As shrewd as Grace was, she never lied to the public or put on airs to advance her career. Her alleged aloofness was genuine modesty and self-discretion. She may have concealed, but she never misled. The woman she appeared to be was her true self, or at least some portion of herself. There is always more that people don't see, and for a shy, private person like Grace, there was a lot more brimming underneath the surface than the general public would ever know. Elegant and passionate, Grace was also a fighter, but she never used her fists. Instead, she used cunning and style. She went against her family's wishes to be the actress she wanted to become; she went against Hollywood's pleas by saying "farewell forever" and marrying Prince Rainier III of Monaco. She leaned on no one, she asked for nothing, and everything she became she built with her own two, delicate hands. She is rarely given credit for this, seen as merely a pretty girl who got lucky because of her looks. True, her perfectly formed features opened many doors, but the number of "pretty girls" who crash and burn under the pressures of movie town prove that there was much more going on with Grace than her face.

Decadent and charming as she was, Grace was still picked on by the press and the public. Once you're on that pedestal, people love to tear you down. Most often, she was accused of bedding her co-stars, the majority of whom were married. She is linked to Gable, Cooper, and Milland, but only her affair with William Holden is substantiated. Some people claim that she slept with Hitchcock (please) or Bing Crosby, but though Bing fell in love with her on the set of The Country Girl, Grace did not return the sentiment. Everyone fell in love with her it seems; the poor girl couldn't help it! Her true focus was her work, and her diligence gained her a reputation in Hollywood as one of the most professional and unpretentious people in the business. After her struggles to gain complicated and interesting roles, she won herself an Academy Award for her pained and raw performance in The Country Girl, solidifying her reputation as a genuine artist.

 Grace was given her 1955 Oscar by William Holden, 
Co-star and acknowledged lover.

After taking hold of the nation, and the world, she made a handful of movies, and then she was gone. She fell in love with the Prince of Monaco, surrendered herself to a life of duty, family, and some say loneliness, and never returned. Hitch would try to woo her back with Marnie, she herself would make an unreleased short film in the '70s called Rearranged, but a comeback was never to be. She then suffered a brain hemorrhage while driving with her daughter Stephanie, causing her car to go over a hill into a precipice. She succumbed to the effects of a resulting stroke, was taken off life support, and out of this world. Though shockingly wrenched from our grasp, she would have remained as enigmatic and enticing as ever had she lived to be 150. Somehow, she was always ever present, as she is now-- like an ethereal, gossamer blanket enveloping us in her warmth. We miss her and we don't, because she has never left and never will.

Grace on her wedding day with hubby
Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

They say Hitch made her a star, and Rainier made her a Princess, but Grace did all right all by herself. Of all the Kelly siblings, she was voted least likely to succeed. She was the weak one, the sickly one, the quiet one... But it is always the quiet ones you have to look out for. Not satisfied with a ho-hum existence, discontented with her performances-- which she believed could have been better-- and constantly pushing for more in every way, Grace wouldn't stop until she had achieved all of her goals and become the woman she had always wanted to be, even if it went against the grain of every one else's expectations. We remember her as a fashion icon, a sultry adulteress, or a movie star, but I think of her most often as a rebel, and a most atypical one at that: one guided by kindness, generosity, fairness, and spirit. She brought change without ruffling feathers, she raised temperatures by merely raising an eyebrow, she altered cinematic history by simply doing what she thought was right and honest. The coolest Hellraiser you ever met, the snow-capped volcano: Grace Kelly.

Fascinating and Fashionable...


  1. She was exquisite. A classic Irish-Catholic beauty. I loved her in Rear Window although she drove me and Stewart crazy by going to Raymond Burr’s apartment. Great work, thanks

  2. Awesome article! Grace is one of my favorites. I love that you so correctly point out she never misled people, even though she concealed some things.

  3. yay! wonderful post! I would really love to see more Grace films. I will have to work on that soon.

  4. Hoorah! I'm glad you all approve of this month's muse :)

  5. Irish Father, German Mother ;-) But very American. And so bloody misunderstood by so many. She was no Ice Princess, she was a wonderful, loyal friend, she loved to giggle, she was shy and blind as a bat without her glasses. One in a billion!

  6. ...and i love you for not going along with the Bing Crosby rumours... that was so hurtful to her as the gossip rags said she was with him as his wife died. Such an ugly lie :( And she herself admitted what had happened with Milland, saying "It was a bad mistake". The Bill Holden thing, for me... the jury is still out on that. I have researched her life intensely for 12 years and cannot find solid proof either way (Plenty of gossip, but those are just words, she was treated badly in Hollywood by jealous women and later called it "A town without pity" - i believe this is a huge reason she insisted on living in NYC). Nothing happened with Coop, that started when a pic of her on his lap went to the newspapers (while on set surrounded by cast and crew!), but she never had any romance with him :)

  7. Thanks so much for your comments, Amy. I agree with you on everything. She was truly a remarkable woman. All of the alleged affairs and rumors are difficult to sift through, but I concur that the majority of them were BS. The only reason I included the Holden one is because I read that her family "acknowledged it." What that means, I don't know... But none of this diminished her talent. Thanks for reading! Have a great July 4th :)